#7QT: Let’s Get Planning–the First Steps

The summer is passing more quickly than I care to admit.  Today, I am actually at an IHM conference.  If any of you plan on stopping by, please find me and say hello. Linking up with Kelly who I wish were going to be at the conference, too!  We need to find another conference to meet up at, Kelly!

Wherever you are in your homeschooling journey there are always those nagging questions and worries.  Admit it!  I have them, too.  I wanted to write this post to give you a little boost as you plan, particularly if you are a new homeschooler or still discerning.

Homeschooling is a year by year commitment.  Although I never stop planning and often think ahead to get the whole picture, I never commit to more than one year.  If you begin homeschooling kindergarten, you will invariably be met with numerous people asking you how you expect to teach Algebra, Calculus, and Chemistry.
The answer is simple, you don’t, because what kind of a kindergarten curriculum would that be?  
Referring back to number 1, homeschooling does not mean that you have to be the only teacher your child ever has for every subject.  I don’t know a single homeschooler who operates that way. Your child will encounter other teachers/adult leaders in activities, camps, enrichment classes, and co-ops.  Do not feel that you must take it all on.
Likewise, do not be afraid to outsource teaching when you need to and it would serve your family better.  There is a bevy of resources out there including courses on the Internet, recorded on DVD or CD, and through your local library or homeschool co-op.  Do what works for you and your students.
Make sure to build a community. Homeschooling never means having to go it alone!  This is much easier now with Facebook groups.  When I began homeschooling, having an email loop was a novel idea.  Finding those email loops to find your community was very hard.
Having a local community is optimum, but not always possible.  If you don’t know anyone who homeschools, find like minded parents online and start asking questions. Share your frustrations and triumphs, believe me, your struggles are not as unique as you think.  None of us have super powers, we are all just moms doing the best we can.  Seek the support you need!  If you want some guidance, email me and I can point you to some very good groups that have helped in the past. and continue to help me in this journey.
Socialization is always the number one concern of every naysayer you will meet.  The irony is that these same people want traditionally schooled children to have less downtime and shorter recess, so how are they socializing?
Anyway, socialization is very important, I will not lie.  You need socialization, and so do your children. However, school is not the only way to achieve this, in fact it is probably the worse way to do so.  As you build your community, you will find homeschool friends and opportunities to get out and be with others.  Please understand that unless you are locking your family into a bomb shelter and never seeing the light of day, you are socializing.  Even if you were to be locked underground for decades, it would not be ideal, but your children would have each other to play and converse.  Siblings and parents are a part of social networks, and that is a good thing!
You do not need a very fancy, very expensive boxed curriculum to homeschool.  If that is what you want, have at it by all means, but don’t cave to pressure.  You can do this without experts picking every book for you.  Even if you chose to use a box curriculum, feel free to change it up for a subject or two.  Homeschooling puts you in charge.  The flip side to not having to teach every class is that homeschooling means you make the decisions for your child.  History too boring? Try something different.  Math book not working?  Try something different.
Also, do not be afraid to just follow your gut and make courses up yourself–or steal some of mine!  Call it unschooling, call it fun-schooling, call it whatever you want.  Take a semester or a year and discover what your family needs and what you want to give them. I promise you, their lives will not be ruined and they will still learn something.
As a piggy back to number 5, never be afraid to give up on a program that isn’t working.  Perhaps it is December and you realize this super-amazing-must-have-everyone-loves curriculum just isn’t working for your family.  You didn’t fail, you just are choosing a different path.
Do your homework,  research, and review; but ultimately the proof is in the pudding.  Do not bang your head against the wall lamenting that you can’t make it work like the reviews said, or feeling defeated because a blogger has lovely pictures and all her children are smiling.  I assure you that bloggers are not experts and those pictures are only a snapshot in time. Every homeschool family has struggles and is working so very hard.
The real expert is you!  You are the expert in your children and in your family needs. You can do this!
Write down your plans and formulate a “Why” for your homeschool. You will need a solid reason when the days get long and the dreariness of winter sets in.  Even unschoolers need a bit of a road map.  Having plans written down is not a binding contract but it will go a long way in getting you to where you want to be.
I really struggle with daily lesson plans, however as the children are getting older, I realize that I need them.  I will be doing a post about planning very soon. Particularly planning when you cannot afford the fancy, pricey planners.
Is there anything you would add?  Any questions you have?  Drop me a line, any time! God bless.

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